Rifle rec center sales tax numbers detailed
Citizen Telegram Editor
If Rifle voters approve a 0.74 percent sales tax hike to help repay a $21 million bond issue for a recreation and community center, residents and visitors would pay an additional 74 cents on a $100 purchase and less than a penny on a $2 purchase.
Those figures and other information were presented by the group backing the center at a public meeting in the Rifle Branch Library on Wednesday, June 12, to help inform residents of the project and sales tax hike voters will decide in the Sept. 10 municipal election.
The bonds used to fund construction would be repaid in 30 years or less, using funds from the tax hike.
If the sales tax passes, Sean Strode, a member of the Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center, said someone buying $100 worth of merchandise would pay 74 cents due to the tax hike. A $40 purchase would mean 29 cents in tax, while $2 would result in less than a penny in tax, Strode said. Those numbers reflect just the recreation center tax, not all taxes.
Committee co-chair Angela Strode, Sean Strode’s husband, said the committee knows there is a lot of “malcontent” in the community over last year’s water treatment plant sales tax hike and $25 million loan to build it.
“We know some people are angry,” Angela Strode said. “But it’s important to remember this is a private/public partnership, compared to the plant being a city project. So there will be more checks and balances to help keep each entity honest.”
Not just a weight room
Among the planned amenities in the center are a leisure pool with a kids play area, a lap pool, fitness area with weights, gymnastic studio, community rooms, indoor track, two full-size gymnasiums, a climbing wall, racquetball courts, outside tennis courts, an outside patio area near the pool and a yoga and dance area.
Sean Strode added the center would have more room for fitness equipment, compared to the single room Rifle Fitness Center.
Strode said a lot of misinformation has circulated regarding the recreation center. One such incorrect statement is that the skate park at Metro Park will be torn down to make room for the recreation center, he noted.
“That’s not true,” Strode said. “The dirt track will be replaced, plus the swimming pool and tennis courts. The batting cages will be moved to Deerfield Park, where they belong anyway.”
Regional sporting events at the center would bring families to Rifle, where they could stay in hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop local businesses, Strode noted.
“The biggest thing is a recreation center makes economic sense,” he said. “We think holding after-school and Friday programs for kids would help attract more residents and new employers. And those already here would have another reason to stay.”
Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. President Michael Langhorne said the corporation has worked with the city to jointly operate the Rifle Fitness Center.
“The city parks and recreation department operates the center, and we collect the money,” Langhorne said. “But the city still has to subsidize it to the tune of about $35,000 a year.”
Langhorne noted the city also subsidizes the Art Dague swimming pool at $184,000 a year out of the parks and recreation budget. He added a recreation center is estimated to need a $274,000 a year subsidy from the city.
In a later email, Langhorne said the sales tax is estimated to generate $1.4 million annually. Of that, $1.2 million would go to repay the bonds, leaving close to $155,000 that can be used for operations each year.
The bottom line is the city would have to designate $119,000 for operations and maintenance, which Langhorne said could be pulled from the city’s one cent sales tax for parks and recreation, approved by voters several years ago.
Waiting to build the center when the economy is better will only increase the construction costs, Strode noted.
“If we wait five years, business will be at a different pace, and we’ll have to pay a premium cost compared to what we can get now,” he said.
Committee member Ryan Mackley said he hopes a Rifle center would generate enough revenue to help pay for operational costs.
“I firmly believe that if we do things like this, and with the [New Ute] events center, sales tax revenue will go up” in Rifle, he said. “We’ll start to see more people move here when the economy picks up and they’ll see we have a pretty attractive place to live.”
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